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ACP Journal Club

 Purpose and Procedure

The general purpose of ACP Journal Club is to select from the biomedical literature articles that report original studies and systematic reviews that warrant immediate attention by physicians attempting to keep pace with important advances in internal medicine. These articles are summarized in value-added abstracts and commented on by clinical experts. The specific purposes of ACP Journal Club are:

1. To detect, using prestated methodologic criteria (inclusion criteria), the best original and review articles on the cause, course, diagnosis, clinical prediction, prevention, treatment, or economics of medical disorders managed by internists and related subspecialists, and on quality improvement and continuing medical education intervention trials in internal medicine

2. To summarize these studies and reviews in "structured abstracts" that describe the objectives, methods, results, and evidence-based conclusions of studies in a reproducible, accurate, and applicable fashion

3. To provide brief commentaries on the context, methods, and clinical applications of the findings of each article by clinicians with a high degree of expertise in the topic of the article who have declared no conflict of interest

4. To disseminate the summaries in a timely fashion to internists and internists-in-training to the extent that resources permit.

The American College of Physicians publishes ACP Journal Club, under the editorship of R. Brian Haynes, MD, PhD, at McMaster University, on a monthly basis in Annals of Internal Medicine. The Health Information Research Unit of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University hosts the editorial office for the service. For more information on the staff involved in the production of ACP Journal Club, see staff.

Selection of original studies and reviews for abstraction

More than 110 journals are reviewed on an ongoing basis to identify articles that meet our inclusion criteria. For a current list of journals, see journals reviewed. The list is subject to modification based on the relative performance of each journal according to the Inclusion criteria. We will also consider journals nominated by readers and editors. Access to other journals, including foreign-language journals, is provided through the systematic reviews we abstract.

For each issue of ACP Journal Club, 10 articles are selected by the Editor for abstraction from those that meet the inclusion criteria. Selection of articles for abstraction is based largely on "Clinical impact ratings" from the McMaster Online Rating of Evidence (MORE) system—an Internet-based system that gathers ratings of new articles, already assessed for scientific merit, from MORE raters, who comprise a panel of more than 5000 physicians from around the world. These ratings are averaged scores for clinical relevance and newsworthiness for each of the disciplines (specialties) relevant to the article. Each MORE rater assigns ratings to new articles for both relevance and newsworthiness on a scale from 1 to 7 (with 7 the best rating). These ratings are then averaged for at least 3 raters for each pertinent discipline. For example, an article about diabetes would be sent to raters in primary care and raters in endocrinology; the ratings from at least 3 raters are averaged for each discipline. Ratings that average 6 or higher help to keep your knowledge up-to-date for essential new evidence.

Structured abstracts

Structured abstracts are prepared for the selected articles following the basic principles outlined in the procedure for more informative abstracts (1). Each structured abstract is accompanied by a commentary prepared by a practicing clinician. The commentary discusses the article/abstract in the context of the research that has preceded it, identifies important methodologic problems that affect interpretation, and provides recommendations for clinical application. Abstracts and commentaries are reviewed by an Associate Editor, an expert in the content area covered by the article. In addition, the author of the original article is given an opportunity to review the abstract and commentary before publication. Physicians in active clinical practice can join the roster of commentators.

Each structured abstract includes the "Clinical impact ratings" (averaged ratings for relevance and newsworthiness on a scale of 1 to 7, as described above) for the relevant disciplines, indicated by the icons below:

 Clinical Impact Ratings

A Glossary includes definitions of key methodological terms that are used in the structured abstracts.

ACP Journal Club is also included in the Evidence-Based Medicine Reviews database in Ovid.

Reference

1. Haynes RB, Mulrow CD, Huth EJ, Altman DG, Gardner MJ. More informative abstracts revisited. Ann Intern Med. 1990;113:69-76. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-113-1-69

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